Money Supply

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DEFINITION of 'Money Supply'

The entire stock of currency and other liquid instruments in a country's economy as of a particular time. The money supply can include cash, coins and balances held in checking and savings accounts. Economists analyze the money supply and develop policies revolving around it through controlling interest rates and increasing or decreasing the amount of money flowing in the economy. Money supply data is collected, recorded and published periodically, typically by the country's government or central bank. Public and private sector analysis is performed because of the money supply's possible impacts on price level, inflation and the business cycle. In the United States, the Federal Reserve policy is the most important deciding factor in the money supply.

Also called money stock.

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BREAKING DOWN 'Money Supply'

The various types of money in the money supply are generally classified as "M"s such as M0, M1, M2 and M3, according to the type and size of the account in which the instrument is kept. Not all of the classifications are widely used, and each country may use different classifications. M0 and M1, for example, are also called narrow money and include coins and notes that are in circulation and other money equivalents that can be converted easily to cash. M2 included M1 and, in addition, short-term time deposits in banks and certain money market funds.

An increase in the supply of money typically lowers interest rates, which in turns generates more investment and puts more money in the hands of consumers, thereby stimulating spending. Businesses respond by ordering more raw materials and increasing production. The increased business activity raises the demand for labor. The opposite can occur if the money supply falls or when its growth rate declines.

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